• Full time during the summer or part time during the semester
  • Possible at any point, but more typical for third and fourth year students
  • Get paid as undergraduate research assistant or conduct the research as an undergraduate research thesis for credit
  • Your faculty supervisor and/or graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the research group will train you
  • Examples include assisting with experiments, field work, collaborating with industry, data collection and analysis, writing code, running simulations or developing models.

Why conduct research as an undergraduate?

  • It's exciting! Play a small part in solving the world's pressing challenges such as reducing green house gas emissions or protecting our water resources. Help to advance the state of the art, develop better models, new device prototypes, or entirely new capabilities.
  • It's a great way to find out if research and graduate school is right for you.
  • Many undergraduate research assistants learn to use advanced equipment, software and techniques in high demand by employers.
  • Diversify your professional skills
  • Undergraduate research experiences give you a significant advantage when applying later for graduate school or for research-oriented positions in industry.
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Mechanical and Materials Engineering offer Accelerated Master's programs (aka "4+1") in which students can obtain a Master's degree one or two terms faster by starting a research project during their undergraduate degree, often in the summer after the third year. Contact those departments' graduate assistants for details. 

How does it work? 

  1. Find supervisor: All undergraduate research projects require a faculty supervisor.Therefore, the first step is to identify professors who conduct research that you find interesting -- see the next section. Research poster sessions are also great opportunities to find out about interesting research projects.  
  2. Contact supervisor: Next, talk to these faculty members to let them know that you are interested in conducting research under their supervision, e.g., after class or during office hours. You can also send a faculty member an email to express your interest in undergraduate research and to find out if they have funding and time to supervise you. Check out the 2023 Queen's undergraduate research guide with tips for writing such emails.
  3. Funding: There are quite a few funding programs, see below. For some programs like SWEP, the faculty members post undergraduate research positions that you can apply for. Other programs like USRAs are a good opportunity to approach faculty members several weeks before the deadline. 

Questions? Feel free to email Vera (vmk@queensu.ca).


Research at Smith Engineering

Our researchers are dedicated to discovering forward-thinking solutions for the challenges of our rapidly changing world.  


Funding programs for undergraduate research

  • NSERC USRA: The USRA program requires a faculty supervisor to provide part of the student’s salary, so talk to professors you would like to work with. Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents or protected persons under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) can apply for an NSERC USRA. Each department at Queen’s is given a certain number of USRAs each year and sets their own internal deadline: Math: Jan 22, Physics: Feb 9, Civil: Feb 9; Geological: Feb 15, Mechanical and Materials: Feb 15, Chemical: Feb 16, Electrical and Computer: Feb 19, Mining: Feb 26. 
    Mechanical and Materials Engineering Instructions and list of projects
  • There is an unlimited number of NSERC USRAs for Black and Indigenous students , see Queen's USRA page
  • Queen's has an undergraduate research program called USSRF. Each department receives an allocation of USSRFs each year. Same deadlines as for USRA, see above. 
  • Charles Allan Thompson Research Award: similar to an NSERC USRA, but international students are eligible and will have higher priority since they are not eligible for the USRA program. The deadline is typically in early March.
  • Queen’s Summer Work Experience Program: faculty members sometimes fund research projects for undergraduate students through SWEP, so check the list of SWEP positions for next summer, which will be posted on December 15, 2023, with an application deadline of February 13, 2024. 
  • Mitacs Accelerate: these are industrial research internships where undergraduate or graduate students spend about half the time at the university and half the time at an eligible company, non-profit or municipal partner organization, working on the same research project. Each 4 month internship unit requires a faculty supervisor and $7,500 in co-funding from the partner organization that is matched 1:1 by Mitacs. Currently there is a special call that requires only $5,000 in partner funding, matched with $10,000 from Mitacs. Mitacs contact: Mike. No deadlines. 
  • Women in Engineering Summer Research Grants: these are smaller grants, one per undergraduate program. Information will be distributed through the departments closer to summer or email Heidi Ploeg, the Queen’s Chair for Women in Engineering.
  • Queen’s STEMInA undergraduate research program: a new pilot initiative this year for Indigenous students who are interested in research.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Internship Program | Arthur B. McDonald Institute: this program is specifically for students not enrolled in Physics or Engineering Physics programs. Next deadline: January 19, 2024. 
  • Work-Study: the university subsidizes experiential learning opportunities for students with financial need, including research-related opportunities.   
  • Some faculty members have included a budget for undergraduate research projects in their grant applications and will not require co-funding from one of the programs listed above


  • EngSoc Chemical Engineering Chemistry’s Research Night: Tuesday January 30th starting at 5:30pm in Dupuis Auditorium. The event will focus on spotlighting opportunities for CHEE/ENCH undergraduate students interested in the following positions:
    1. 4/5th Year Thesis Student (2024-2025 academic term)
    2. Summer Research Student - NSERC/USRA (Summer 2024)